Dragonmark: Priests, Krozen and Zerasha

July is quickly fading, but as time allows I want to answer a few questions posed by my Patreon supporters. This month, people asked about a pair of priests—High Cardinal Krozen of Thrane and Zerasha of Graywall.

Dealing with the Divine

Krozen and Zerasha are both powerful divine spellcasters. In third edition, Krozen was defined as a 12th level cleric of the Silver Flame, making him one of the most powerful clerics in canon Khorvaire. While never defined, Zerasha is supposed to be similar in her power—a priest respected and feared by a city of monsters and the mind flayer who governs it. Given that most priests in Khorvaire are adepts—or don’t even cast spells at all—I want players to feel how remarkable these individuals are when they encounter them. A powerful wizard is essentially a scientist, someone who uses logic and knowledge to break the laws of reality. A powerful divine caster is something else. Both Zerasha and Krozen are the chosen agents of cosmic powers. The Sovereigns and Six are omnipresent forces. The Shadow knows the evil that lurks in the hearts of mortals, and Zerasha is one of its chief agents. Krozen can command the dead to return to life or call celestials from the essence of the Silver Flame. We can debate the existence of the Sovereigns, but the Silver Flame is the force that stands between Eberron and the overlords, and Krozen is a conduit for its power. These aren’t just people who have learned how to perform magic tricks. They are the chosen agents of vast cosmic forces. If you’ll pardon the phrase, they are burdened with glorious purpose.

But how do you make the powerful priest feel different from a wizard or a prince? This is something I discuss at more length in this article. One of the key points is to separate the way divine NPCs cast spells from how player characters do it. We need the structure of the classes for player characters because we need tactical precision, and I’m fine to say that in combat, Krozen casts spells as a 12th level cleric. But outside of combat I don’t feel that he needs to engage with his magic in the same way as a player character. The most common divine spellcasters—adepts—function much like magewrights; they have a specific set of cantrips and spells they can cast and that’s all they can cast. A typical spellcasting priest might be able to cast thaumaturgy, light, and ceremony. There are specialist adepts—oracles who can cast divination, healers who can perform lesser restoration—but the oracle can’t just decide to become a healer in the morning. They have been granted a divine gift, and they can’t exchange it for another one. More powerful spellcasters like Zerasha and Krozen aren’t limited like this, but they also don’t call their divinity on the phone each morning and make spell requests. Their divine power source grants them the spells they need when they need them, provided the request is justified. Krozen doesn’t prepare zone of truth ahead of time, but if he formally demands you speak the truth in the light of the Flame, zone of truth happens. Essentially, his spells are selected on the fly to match the situation he finds himself in. But the contrast is that he doesn’t have the freedom a PC has to request any spell. The Flame may empower Krozen to raise someone from the dead or to smite them with a flame strike, but in spite of his effective level it’s not going to grant him the power to create undead or to cast contagion; these aren’t the tools of a righteous servant of the Flame, and if you DO see a Flame priest using such spells, it’s a clear sign that they are actually a servant of the Whispering Flame or a warlock hacking the Flame. Krozen may take actions we consider evil, but he believes his actions are righteous in the light of the Flame; he’s not drawing on malefic powers.

Divination is another important example. With the spellcasting power of a 12th level cleric, Krozen could technically cast commune three times a day, along with a batch of auguries. And that’s how things work for PCs. But Krozen doesn’t just have some magic hotline that he can dial three times per day. He can’t just call up Tira Miron and say “Does Boranel dye his hair? Yes? I KNEW it!” It’s not some sort of abstract, scientific tool that he can just use for whatever random, trivial detail he wants to know. But the flip side is that he may simply receive information that he needs—that he can receive divine visions. Even when he doesn’t cast augury, he may suddenly KNOW that a decision he’s about to make could lead to disaster. Even without commune, he might KNOW the truth about a situation. This is especially relevant for Zerasha, because part of what defines the Shadow is dangerous secrets. Consider this description of the Shadow from this article:

As the dark side of Aureon, the Shadow is also the Sovereign of Knowledge… but specifically the things you shouldn’t know. The Shadow knows the evil that lurks in the hearts of mortals. It knows who killed your parents. It knows what your lover really thinks about you. And it knows secrets of magic that Aureon won’t share… techniques that can provide power, but at a cost.

So It’s not that Zerasha sits down and says “I want to know secrets about this player character” and casts commune or some other divination spell; it’s that when the players come before her, she simply DOES know who killed the paladin’s parents and why the rogue murdered their partner, because that’s part of what it means to be the voice of the Shadow.

The short form is that when dealing with NPCs who are powerful divine spellcasters, I want them to FEEL like they are conduits to powers far greater than they are. When Krozen demands that you speak the truth, zone of truth happens. When he barks out an order, it may become a command, because that’s the power that flows through him. I want the powerful priest to feel larger then life, because at the end of the day they are the conduits for something that IS larger than life.

Now, reading all this, you might say “But I thought Eberron was the setting where we don’t know if the gods even exist.” We know that deities don’t walk the world in Eberron. You will never have a chance to punch Aureon in the face. But we know that divine power sources exist. We know that priests have been drawing on the POWER of Aureon for tens of thousands of years, and that in part because of this, most people believe divine forces exist. They may argue about details; the Cazhaak interpretation of the Dark Six is quite different from how they’re depicted in the Pyrinean Creed. But most people believe in SOME form of divinity, and part of the reason for that is the fact that divine magic exists.

With all of this in mind, you might say “If that’s how you handle NPC priests, why don’t you deal with player character clerics in the same way?” I offer some suggestions in that direction in this article. But fifth edition embraces the idea that NPCs and PCs don’t have to follow the same rules. Part of being a player character is having flexibility and tactical control. It’s about having the ability to make choices. I’ve played campaigns in which divine characters CHOSE to give me more control over their spells—embracing the idea that the powers were gifts they didn’t fully control—but that was a choice they made that fit the story of that character. But one of the fundamental principles of Eberron is that player characters are remarkable, and I have no problem with them having a greater degree of versatility and precision than most other servants of the divine.

Having worked through that, let’s talk about the two specific priests that people have asked about…

Who is High Cardinal Krozen of Thrane?

Our blessed child is the Keeper of the Flame and shows us all the path to the light. But I am the keeper of the nation, and if I must toil in the darkness to ensure its prosperity, so be it.

High Cardinal Krozen

People have lots of questions about Cardinal Krozen of Thrane. What’s his first name? Does he realize he’s evil? Does he believe in a greater good—or for that matter, does he even believe in the Silver Flame? What makes him more important than the other 11 High Cardinals of the Church? These are all good questions. I’ve always liked Krozen, but my vision of him is quite different from how he’s evolved in canon sources. I know what I originally planned for him when we first created the character, and that’s how I use him, so I’ll lay that out here. Keep in mind that this directly contradicts multiple canon sources (which, admittedly, contradict themselves on some points). This is MY interpretation and I am not going to reconcile it with what other authors have done with the character; it’s up to you to decide which version you prefer.

My original vision of High Cardinal Thrane was loosely inspired by Cardinal Richelieu as depicted in The Three Musketeers—a ruthless man who is engaged in sly intrigues, but who is nonetheless an extremely capable leader, perhaps moreso than the king the protagonists serve. It was always my vision that Cardinal Krozen was devoted to Thrane and that he performs his duties exceptionally well—that he is a brilliant strategist and a charismatic orator. But this is tied to the idea that he truly believes that he knows what is best for the nation. The basic dictate of the Silver Flame is to protect the innocent from supernatural evil. Where Jaela recognizes that this applies to ALL innocents, regardless of their faith or nationality, Krozen believes that you aren’t innocent unless you’re a Thrane and a servant of the faith, and don’t oppose him. He DOES fight to protect the innocent—but only those HE decides are innocent.

So I see Cardinal Krozen as a remarkable man—one of the player characters of his generation. He’s human and I see him as being about fifty years old. The details of his youth—and, in fact, his first name—aren’t generally known; the general story is that he lived on the Aundairian border and that the Flame granted him the power to perform great deeds, first in the defense of his village and then as a templar. He was always charismatic and intelligent, but beyond that, his divine power was always remarkable; when he called on the Flame, he gained the power to smite his foes. In his early twenties he rose out of the templars and into the hierarchy of the church, turning his gifts to leadership behind the scenes rather than fighting on the battlefield. From there, his star rose and rose; those who opposed him were either won over by his charisma or driven from his path, one way or another.

Part of the core idea of Krozen is that he represents the danger of Thrane becoming a theocracy—that in doing so it drags the church into the management of temporal matters and political concerns. The idea of Thrane is that Jaela Daran represents the pure ideals of the faith—while Cardinal Krozen deals with political realities. Again, Jaela does believe that “protect the innocent” applies to all people—that Krozen believes that it can only be applied to the faithful and to Thranes. It’s not that he is a vile, selfish person; but he has blended his faith with his devotion to his nation and places the good of Thrane over all others. Beyond this, Krozen very much has a Chosen One mentality. He possesses immense divine power, and in his mind this proves his righteousness. He believes he was given this power to serve the interests of Thrane, and the fact that he still wields that power proves that he is right to do so. He will crush others who get in his way—even other priests or templars—because he believes, again, that those who oppose him aren’t innocent.

In considering all this, take a moment to think about the Shadow in the Flame. There are those—the Whispering Flame cultists—who knowingly choose to serve Bel Shalor. But the true power of the Shadow in the Flame is its ability to piggyback on the Voice of the Flame and to pour poison in the ears of the truly faithful. Bel Shalor loves to erode empathy and to convince people to do evil when they only seek to do good. The Shadow in the Flame reveled in the suffering caused by the Silver Crusade, and Bel Shalor undoubtedly sees Cardinal Krozen as a valuable tool. The question for the DM to decide is how much of a hold does Bel Shalor have over the Cardinal? In MY Eberron, Krozen KNOWS the dangers posed by the Shadow of the Flame; all the faithful do. And with that in mind, he does his best to resist those impulses; he knows that he does questionable things (like, you know, torture and murder…) but he truly believes that he is acting for the greater good and that he’s NOT a tool of the Shadow in the Flame. But in your campaign you could decide that he HAS fallen prey to Bel Shalor’s whispers and no longer realizes the evil he is doing… or even go further and decide that he is a priest of the Whispering Flame. Personally I prefer to follow the shades-of-grey model, to say that while Krozen does evil things, he only does them when pursuing the interests of Thrane—that he always believes his actions are justified. I like the idea that Krozen knows he walks a dark path, but that he believes it is the path the Flame has set him on, and that at the end of the day he is protecting the innocent—even if he has had to sacrifice his own innocence to do it.

Now, some people may be say “That’s all fine, but who IS he?” Krozen is one of the high cardinals of Thrane. Per the original Eberron Campaign Setting…

This group of powerful church leaders administers both the workings of the church and the functions of the government. In theory, the cardinals answer to the Keeper of the Flame. In practice, they run the church and the government, only dealing with the Keeper on issues that require divine attention and interaction with the Voice of the Flame. The cardinals believe that they know best when it comes to running the government and the church, and they leave the Keeper to deal with the well-being of the spirit of the nation. This arrangement has led to problems between the Council and the Keeper in the past, but the current Keeper seems interested more in divine and spiritual matters than the intricacies of secular administration.

There may be twelve High Cardinals, but Krozen is the effective leader of the Council—and thus, of Thrane. If you have a divine problem, talk to Jaela. But if you’re looking into the deployment of Thrane troops or about getting more resources for Rellekor, it’s Krozen who can get things done. The general idea is that Krozen is in many ways the opposite of Jaela. Where the Keeper is compassionate, the Cardinal is ruthless. The Cardinal is a master of political intrigue, while Jaela prefers honest dealing. Jaela wants what’s best for all innocents; Krozen cares only for Thrane.

The final thing I’ll call about about Krozen is this: If there’s twelve high cardinals, why is he the leader? What makes him special? The short answer is that what makes him special is that he IS special. Again, not all priests are spellcasters at all, and in a world where everyday magic goes to 3rd level, a 12th level spellcaster is remarkable. He can raise the dead! Those who oppose him are struck down by flame strikes! You’ve seen him shape celestials from the pure power of the Flame! And as I said, while I don’t just let him cast commune three times a day, he hears the Voice of the Flame in ways that others do not (and, of course, potentially the Shadow in the Flame as well). There’s surely other spellcasters among the cardinals, but Krozen stands out; if you look to the 3.5 statistics, he’s notably a more powerful spellcaster than the high priest of the Host and Archierophant Ythana in Sharn: City of Towers. Power alone isn’t everything, but the whole idea is that this power is matched with passion and charisma—that just like a player character, Krozen is remarkable. With this in mind, he doesn’t command the Council of Cardinals, but he has won the loyalty of the majority of its members and thus is the EFFECTIVE leader of the council. In my opinion, there’s four cardinals who are utterly devoted to him; three who believe he’s doing what’s best for Thrane; and four who don’t support him. Of these four, all believe that the Keeper shows the proper path for the nation and that Krozen’s actions are concerning; one or two may have deeper concerns, or believe that he is serving the Shadow in the Flame. So Krozen DOESN’T have absolute control of the council, but he’s effectively the leader.

Krozen as a Villain

As I’ve just spent a lot of time insisting that Krozen believes he’s acting for the good of Thrane and that he is an effective leader, you might wonder if I actually see him as a villain. I do, generally—just a villain with many layers. He performs evil deeds in pursuit of the greater good, and more than that, he is only concerned with the greater good of THRANE. When I use Krozen, I want it to be clear why people support him. I want Thranes, in particular, to feel conflicted because Krozen IS good at his job—that if the nation was guided purely by the idealistic Jaela, it would be easy prey for the machinations of Kaius, the Royal Eyes of Aundair, and the Dark Lanterns. Krozen is effective; but is that enough to justify his methods? And IS he a tool of the Shadow in the Flame, even if he refuses to see it?

Zerasha, the Voice of the Shadow

You think you know why you’re here. You think we have to be enemies. But that’s the voice of your petty and jealous Sovereigns, who fear what you could become if you follow the paths I could show you.

Zerasha of Graywall

The medusa Zerasha is a priest of the Shadow in the city of Graywall. She’s mentioned in a Dragon article, which says…

The street ends at the Eye of the Shadow, a small windowless temple formed from black stone. The medusa priestess Zerasha holds court here. A fearsome combatant and skilled ritual caster, Zerasha is the most influential voice in Graywall after Xorchylic; the people of the town have come to trust her oracular gifts. At the moment, she is an ally of the Daughters of Sora Kell, but her first loyalty is to the Shadow and to her own warlord, the Queen of Stone. Should there ever be a civil war in Graywall, the black-scaled medusa will be a force with which to be reckoned. 

Backdrop: Graywall, Dragon 368

That’s the only canon information that exists on her. Since I wrote that article, people have asked: What is the priestess Zerasha’s relationship with Xorchylic? What are her goals, and what might cause those goals to become so misaligned with Xorchylic’s as to cause open conflict?

In my mind, Zerasha is truly devoted to her faith and to her Queen, in that order. As described in this article, she believes that the Shadow is the guide and guardian of those creatures followers of the Sovereigns consider monsters. Beyond this, she is what the article describes as a mentor. Acting on behalf of the Shadow, she seeks to help the faithful achieve their ambitions—even if that means following the darkest possible paths to do so. Beyond that, the Shadow is the Sovereign of secrets. As described above, she is an oracle—not as gifted in this regard as Sora Teraza, but certainly the most powerful oracle in Graywall. She knows secrets. Having said that, as I called out above, her knowledge comes from the Shadow and she doesn’t know things until she needs to know them. When she meets a player character, the Shadow may tell her their secrets; but it’s not like she just randomly knows everyone’s secrets all the time. And again, if the Shadow shares a secret with Zerasha, it’s so she can DO something with that secret.

So in terms of her goals, I believe that Zerasha’s goals are first and foremost to offer spiritual guidance to the people of Graywall and to help them achieve their true potential. Beneath that, her goals are whatever tasks the Shadow sets before her; it’s quite common for her to feel that there is a particular individual the Shadow wishes her to focus on, someone who needs to be guided on the proper path. And beneath that, her loyalty is to her queen, the medusa Sheshka, and to the people of Cazhaak Draal.

Her relationship with Xorchyllic largely depends on what the DM decides Xorchyllic is truly up to. As long as Xorchyllic is pursuing the greater good of Graywall and Droaam, Zerasha will support him. But we’ve called out that the Flayer Guard of Droaam serve the interests of the governor first and the common folk second. If Xorchyllic is somehow oppressing or harming a portion of the city in pursuit of his personal agenda, that could bring him into conflict with Zerasha. Ultimately, the question is what is the interest of the Shadow? If the Shadow supports Xorchyllic and wants the illithid to achieve its ambitions, Zerasha could work closely with the governor. On the other hand, if the Shadow is most interested in helping a lowly kobold on the Street of Shadows achieve her ambitions of overthrowing Xorchyllic and becoming a new warlord, than Zerasha would oppose the mind flayer. The same is true for player characters. What does the Shadow think of them? It could be that it favors their enemies, in which case Zerasha will oppose them. Or it could be that the Shadow has an interest in one of the adventurers and wants to show them the path to power—in which case, Zerasha who seek to serve as their mentor. But again, a mentor of the Shadow will always lead you down dangerous paths…

That’s all for now! Thanks to my Patreon supporters for making these articles possible.

69 thoughts on “Dragonmark: Priests, Krozen and Zerasha

  1. What makes Krozen a different character from Ythana Morr? What is this “archierophant” title supposed to mean, anyway?

    • She’s Brelish (read corrupt, materialist), and the Sharn branch especially is separate from Thrane’s hierarchy. It’s basically “oh you’re high cardinal? Well I’m ARCH-Hierophant, so there!”

    • “Archierophant” is a Brelish title. If you look to page 55 of Exploring Eberron, Krozen is a zealot—devoted to the faith but willing to commit evil acts in the name of the greater good. Ythana is at best an opportunist (not truly faithful, driven by greed), but given her actual power, is most likely Tarnished—actively serving Bel Shalor. With that in mind, Ythana Morr is someone I’d see as engaging in the behavior the ECG attributes to Krozen (employing fiends and dark magic).

  2. The 4e Eberron Campaign Guide gives a fairly detailed writeup of Krozen, explaining that he is currently obsessed with figuring out the Mourning, and that “The High Cardinal also employs sinister means to attain his information and treasures. Bit by bit, he has succumbed to the temptation of using dark magic, calling up foul demons, dealing with devils, and employing other hideous creatures to tease out the secrets of his enemies. He conceals these activities well, destroying anyone who would dare bring these acts to light. Still, whispers abound, and Krozen’s minions are ever watchful for those who would delve too deep into the High Cardinal’s business.”

    How much of this still applies to your vision of Krozen?

    • How much of this still applies to your vision of Krozen?
      As I say at the start of the article, I’m not going to try and reconcile my vision with those in Five Nations or the ECG. Looking at the section you quoted, the only thing I would personally keep is the idea that he’s obsessed with figuring out the Mourning, because my Krozen is always looking out for Thrane and he fears that a second Mourning could strike Thrane. But my Krozen doesn’t traffic with dark forces, in part because he doesn’t have to; he’s one of the most powerful clerics of the Flame in Khorvaire, and he can get his information from his own divine power without trafficking with demons. Again, he has commune-level access to knowledge, even if I don’t play it as him sitting down and playing twenty questions at the end of each day. He wields the power of the Flame, and while he may use it to support ruthless intrigues, that doesn’t mean he has to resort to dealing with demons.

      • Is summoning demons necessarily an evil act? I imagine it could be done in the way the guard brings in a criminal for questioning, without joining the mob. It would take very strong precautions, considering that most demons are quite wily, but if anyone in Thrane beside player characters can pull it off, it’s Krozen. The Flame is not necessarily omniscient (or is it?), and maybe a Mabaran fiend could be summoned if Krozen were to suspect that Mabar has swallowed Cyre.

        Otherwise, part of what I like about Eberron is that conflicting parts of the canon could still be kept as rumours that are spreading in the world. In that case, Krozen isn’t summoning demons, but his enemies are claiming that he does, and purposefully misinterpreting his talents as gifts from some dark force.

        • Is summoning demons necessarily an evil act? I imagine it could be done in the way the guard brings in a criminal for questioning, without joining the mob.
          I think this is a reasonable assumption, and no, I don’t think it’s innately evil to, as you suggest, question a fiend. Where the line becomes fuzzier is when you are using fiends to perform tasks that celestials could perform, raising the question of WHY you are turning to fiends; and when you are BARGAINING with fiends. It’s one thing to COMPEL an answer from a fiend. It’s another to make a deal with a fiend for information, knowing that the fiend might lie or that your interaction may in some way serve the fiend’s agenda. My point in saying that I personally don’t see Krozen having a need to summon details is because MY Krozen can summon celestials to do his bidding; that part of what makes him interesting as a pseudo-villain is that he does wield the powers of the light. Having an evil alignment doesn’t mean you have to use fiends and undead as your tools. By contrast, if Ythana Morr is a tarnished priest, she CAN’T summon celestials from the Flame, because she’s not actually drawing her power from the light—so she would use fiends as her tools.

          Otherwise, part of what I like about Eberron is that conflicting parts of the canon could still be kept as rumours that are spreading in the world.

          Absolutely!

          • Many thanks for the reply! As regards these celestials: how do these creatures react when they are summoned by an evil, but still genuinely faithful, priest of the Silver Flame like Krozen or Dariznu? Do these couatl and flame-born angels see the darkness in the heart of their summoner? Or are they fooled by the aura of good of the cleric which supercedes his personal evil alignment aura? Or do see it, but care more for the fact that their summoner still is a devout follower of the Flame? I assume that Krozen will not summon a couatl to assassinate a turbulent priest who has done nothing worse than get in the way of his vision for Thrane. Likewise, would Dariznu get anywhere summoning a spirit of the Flame to assist his Inquisition against innocents?

          • As regards these celestials: how do these creatures react when they are summoned by an evil, but still genuinely faithful, priest of the Silver Flame like Krozen or Dariznu? Do these couatl and flame-born angels see the darkness in the heart of their summoner?

            First of all, I’ve already called out that my house rule is that a cleric’s power source overrides their personal alignment for purposes of magic; celestials don’t have some sort of superior detect evil that overrides this. But also, it’s important to recall how we approach alignment in Eberron in the first place. Here’s a link to one of my posts on the subject. Think of the scene in Empire Strikes Back, where Yoda says of Luke “There is much anger in him.” In my opinion, that could be translated to “I used detect evil, and he’s evil.” An evil alignment doesn’t mean that someone is some sort of irredeemable monster. It doesn’t even mean they’re ever going to commit an evil act; it means that they COULD and would do so without remorse. In Eberron, evil people can do good things. So the short form is that even if the celestial does recognize that there’s evil in Krozen’s heart, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a faithful servant of the Silver Flame who may be pursuing a noble purpose.

            I assume that Krozen will not summon a couatl to assassinate a turbulent priest who has done nothing worse than get in the way of his vision for Thrane. Likewise, would Dariznu get anywhere summoning a spirit of the Flame to assist his Inquisition against innocents?
            They could certainly use the 5E spell summon celestial to accomplish either task. It doesn’t summon an actual couatl; it summons a generic “celestial spirit” with a specific stat block, and at no point does it suggest that the celestial can question the orders of the caster. Don’t think of it as an independent entity; think of it as an extension of the will of the priest given substance by the energy of the Silver Flame. That entity isn’t omniscient and it doesn’t know who is an isn’t innocent. BEING a spellcaster with the ability to cast the spell means that the caster is entrusted with the authority to command celestials; it’s not the place of the celestial to ask for some sort of accounting of the situation before it will act.

            Planar Ally is a different situation, as it does summon a pre-existing entity who “is under no compulsion to behave in any particular way. You can ask the creature to perform a service in exchange for payment, but it isn’t obliged to do so.” Dariznu can’t cast planar ally. Krozen can, but he would have to convince it to perform the service; if he wants it to assassinate another priest, he will definitely have to make a VERY good case as to why it’s necessary. But, perhaps he can make that case!

  3. In terms of the Shadow in the Flame, I feel like Melysse Miron being a secret is a bit strange; not only would knowledge of her seem to be hard to totally suppress (even if doable), but her case seems like an easy morality play about the Shadow in the Flame. How public is knowledge about the Shadow in the Flame and its capabilites?

    • I feel like Melysse Miron being a secret is a bit strange;
      What makes you think anything about Melysse Miron is a secret? (I don’t mean this to sound snarky, I assume it’s a statement I’ve made somewhere—just not my current vision!) The Time of Two Keepers is a well known part of history, and Exploring Eberron says “This triggered a deep schism that lasted for years, until Melysse was finally revealed to be the chosen hand of the Shadow in the Flame—it was not the Silver Flame, but rather the overlord Bel Shalor, that strengthened her in Flamekeep.” Given that the rift in the faith was healed by this revelation, I assumed it was definitely public knowledge.

      Likewise, in my opinion the Shadow in the Flame is very well known. In presenting the hierarchy of evil in Exploring Eberron — one of the most basic tenets of the faith — I say
      The evil within. Every follower of the Flame must recognize their own capacity for evil action; only through awareness can they guard against it. The Shadow in the Flame is always whispering, and it is arrogant and foolish to ignore that threat.

      • I think it’s probably “[t]he church, meanwhile, has stricken all mention of Melysse from their records and only the highest-ranking clergy know of her existence”

        Does this instead refer to knowing she’s still *alive* rather than knowing of her historically? Or is she more known as a figure and details about her are not taught publicly?

        • Does this instead refer to knowing she’s still *alive* rather than knowing of her historically? Or is she more known as a figure and details about her are not taught publicly?

          Yes, THIS was my intent. It’s not that people don’t know she was the Keeper of Bel Shalor, it’s that they don’t know she’s petrified in Dreadhold.

      • Original dreadhold article! I forgot that was revised with ExE
        > The church, meanwhile, has stricken all mention of Melysse from their records and only the highest-ranking clergy know of her existence

        • That’s my fault, then, but I think it’s an error and notably don’t take that approach in ExE. I don’t see how something like that could easily be stricken from the record and again, the revelation of her true nature is supposed to be what healed the schism.

          • Matthew reminded me of my intent. It’s not supposed to be that Melysse was expunged from history entirely. However, the fact that she STILL EXISTS and is petrified in Dreadhold is a deep, deep secret.

      • In your Dreadhold article from Dragon 344 you wrote, “The church, meanwhile, has stricken all mention of Melysse from their records and only the highest-ranking clergy know of her existence.”

        “Only the highest-ranking clergy” knowing of her existence could always refer to her *continued existence* as a petrified statue in Dreadhold, but her being stricken from church records is a bit harder to reconcile.

        • her being stricken from church records is a bit harder to reconcile.
          Whatever I had in mind when I wrote that, my intent in this moment is that her continued existence is a deep secret, but the Time of Two Keepers is a well-established historical event.

          • Of course! I think having the Time of Two Keepers be a known event among wider Khorvaire makes more sense. There’s definitely a lot of opportunities for lessons for followers of the Silver Flame in Thrane and abroad to use this as an argument for or against the theocracy as well as to support a moral lesson about the call of Bel Shalor.

  4. How are Solgar Dariznu of Thaliost and his followers seen by the Cardinals? Krozen himself? The general population of Thrane? Is the archbishop/”burning judge” seen as an extreme but necessary ally who is mostly whitewashed for the public, or is it chalked up to “personal evil” and therefore a problem for *him* to wrestle with vs. something the Church can pass judgement on?

    • How are Solgar Dariznu of Thaliost and his followers seen by the Cardinals?
      He’s supported by the majority, which is why he’s in power. He’s considered a necessary evil—placing an Aundairian in charge of the disputed territory strengthens their claim and further helps to placate the Pure Flame and help unify the Church. It would definitely be called out that he has the support of the Pure Flame. However, there’s definitely a minority—likely the same minority that questions Krozen—who view his actions as unforgivable. The short form would be it’s a problem of personal evil; the situation is too volatile for us to change it now; we will deal with him when things… cool down.

      The general population of Thrane?
      Thaliost is far away, the news is surely exaggerated, and we trust the Keeper and the Cardinals to make the right decisions. Remember that there’s no internet in Eberron, and that news of Dariznu’s atrocities may either be suppressed or again, dismissed as exaggerations.

      • I assume that, if Krozen were to come to see Dariznu as more threat than support to Thrane, it would go badly for the Archbishop of Thaliost?

        That leads to the question what Dariznu thinks of Krozen. There is this faction among the Puritans that wants to ‘liberate’ the Keeper from the corrupt Cardinals – read Krozen, their leader.

        What is Dariznu’s opinion here? Is he holding back because he doesn’t believe the conspiracy theory, or is he biding his time because Krozen is simply too powerful – for now?

        Despite being quite unforgiving, Dariznu is devoted to the Flame from what I can tell. He does what he does because he thinks it’s the right thing, not because he enjoys burning people; and I could see him as someone who would rather not do so, but feels his hand is forced. As a Puritan, however, he would be quite unforgiving towards Krozen if he were to believe the rumours about abuses of power, consorting with demons, and organising the murder of Keepers.

        Meanwhile, Krozen doesn’t appear to be a Puritan. Would he be inclined to the clemency of orthodoxy, so long as doing so is not a direct threat to Thrane or the Church? Is that in accordance with how you see these two, and a possible conflict between them?

        • I assume that, if Krozen were to come to see Dariznu as more threat than support to Thrane, it would go badly for the Archbishop of Thaliost?
          Absolutely.

          That leads to the question what Dariznu thinks of Krozen. There is this faction among the Puritans that wants to ‘liberate’ the Keeper from the corrupt Cardinals – read Krozen, their leader. What is Dariznu’s opinion here? Is he holding back because he doesn’t believe the conspiracy theory, or is he biding his time because Krozen is simply too powerful – for now?
          I think Dariznu certainly throws out red meat lines about how he’ll sweep aside the corruption in Flamekeep some day. But the simple fact is that having the support of Flamekeep and the opportunity to create a recognized bastion for the Pure Flame is far too valuable for him to risk the alliance. He definitely doesn’t LIKE Krozen and Krozen doesn’t like him, but at the moment, the value of the alliance outweighs their personal feelings. But I think it’s very likely Krozen is already evaluating plans to replace Dariznu with a more tractable Puritan.

          As a Puritan, however, he would be quite unforgiving towards Krozen if he were to believe the rumours about abuses of power, consorting with demons, and organising the murder of Keepers.
          Absolutely. If it was conclusively proven that Krozen was responsible for the death of the last Keeper, I think Dariznu would feel compelled to act.

          Meanwhile, Krozen doesn’t appear to be a Puritan. Would he be inclined to the clemency of orthodoxy, so long as doing so is not a direct threat to Thrane or the Church? Is that in accordance with how you see these two, and a possible conflict between them?
          Krozen definitely isn’t a Puritan; if he was, we wouldn’t be discussing whether he might be summoning fiends for research purposes. He believes in the core faith of Thrane, but why we tend to say “conservative” is because of the fact that he reins in the compassion-for-all aspects of the faith. Where Jaela believes that the charge to “Defend the innocent from evil” means ALL innocents regardless of faith or nation, Krozen feels it can be limited to Thranes and the faithful. Essentially, one could argue that his faith is POLITICS—that he is absolutely willing to embrace the Puritans for the sake of strengthening the Church and Thrane, even if he thinks Dariznu’s “justice” is barbaric.

          • Thanks! There are some really interesting options here, in the relationship between Krozen and Dariznu, and or the characters to play one against the other. Which would take some skill, of course, especially to try and pull one over Krozen. I like it that Krozen considers Dariznu a distasteful barbarian, despite accepting that politics require him to suffer the fool for now.

            Am I right in assuming, however, that when you say Krozen believes that only Purified Thranes are to be considered innocents, he would be quite ready to help others provided it benefits his nation? The historical Richelieu gave great support to Protestant nations against his fellow Catholics, because it was in the interest of France to do so. Would Krozen side with members of other religions (even ones his Church considers enemies, say the Blood of Vol or factions in Droaam) against non-Thrane Purified, if Thrane comes out strengthened?

          • Am I right in assuming, however, that when you say Krozen believes that only Purified Thranes are to be considered innocents, he would be quite ready to help others provided it benefits his nation?
            Absolutely. As I said, he’s a skilled diplomat and places the overall good of Thrane above all else. Again, Jaela is the Keeper of the Flame; Krozen is, in his eyes, the keeper of the nation.

  5. It is frequently discussed on the Eberron discord what Krozen thinks of Jaela, some say that he believes in protecting her as the innocent child that she is, others disagree. Is your Krozen a grumpy old uncle figure who thinks Jaela is too naive but has a deep care for her, or does he simply see her as a blessed child who has a closer bond with the Silver Flame?

    • Is your Krozen a grumpy old uncle figure who thinks Jaela is too naive but has a deep care for her, or does he simply see her as a blessed child who has a closer bond with the Silver Flame?

      I tried to speak to this with the quote in the article:
      Our blessed child is the Keeper of the Flame and shows us all the path to the light. But I am the keeper of the nation, and if I must toil in the darkness to ensure its prosperity, so be it.
      Beyond this, consider that statement about the Council of Cardinals:
      The cardinals believe that they know best when it comes to running the government and the church, and they leave the Keeper to deal with the well-being of the spirit of the nation.
      My quote could be read with many different voices, but my intent is that Krozen believes that Jaela is the Keeper of the Flame and the spiritual light of the church, and that it is her duty to INSPIRE the faithful. Again, he believes that she is charged with the “spiritual well-being” of the nation. But he also believes that she IS a child and that the needs of the nation are often ugly—and that it’s his job to handle them. So yes, MY Krozen is devoted to the faith and as such is devoted to Jaela, but also believes that, if you will, she can’t handle the truth about what needs to be done for the good of Thrane.
      I could see a plotline in which Krozen takes actions that undermine Jaela’s agenda, but I wouldn’t have a plot in which he would actually try to harm her; she is the Keeper of the Flame, and he is devoted to the faith. He may be frustrated by her naiveté, but he also respects that she is doing her job.

      • What does Jaela think about Krozen? She is rather young to engage in the game of politics and doesn’t seem to have much of an inclination to step outside of her spiritual role, but does she see Krozen as an asset, a threat, or even someone who could eventually be redeemed?

        • This is definitely a question for a DM to decide as best suits the story they want to tell. In my campaign, Jaela is defined by her compassion and is likely trying to guide Krozen onto a better path. My Krozen underestimates Jaela’s wisdom and doesn’t realize how much she knows about him; she certainly doesn’t know all of his secrets, but knows that he is on a dark path, and hopes to guide him away from it. And at the same time, I believe she DOES realize that he is good at what he does.

          However, if you WANTED to run a game in which Jaela truly was an effective prisoner of the Cardinals, I’m not going to stop you; it could be interesting.

          • I like the idea of Jaela truly being a prisoner of the Cardinals, but in general, I was hoping you’d say that she is actually trying to redeem Krozen (and might stand a good chance at succeeding, given her wisdom and spiritual knowledge). I also like the idea that she knows more about Krozen then he realises. It seems like she actually likes the man, with all his faults.

            Thanks also for the other replies you gave to my questions; unfortunately I cannot comment there, as there is no reply button. Does this disappear after a certain number of comments?

    • I feel that neither one of them are celibate but that both are so driven by their divine purposes that they don’t have room in their lives for families. Having said that, I think that it’s quite possible that Zerasha has a family in Cazhaak Draal that she left behind because of the call to serve the Shadow in the Flame.

      So there’s certainly room for relationships, but I don’t feel that either of them have families they are actively devoted to.

  6. How would you see Krozen operating as a patron to a party, either one affiliated with the Church, working for the Argentum, or for him personally? Would his disagreements with Keeper Lavira Tagor and rumors of his hand in her death come into play?

    • In short, it’s like Three Musketeers would be if they were working for Richelieu instead of for the King. Krozen engages in intrigues and is prepared to take ruthless action in pursuit of the greater good. I’d focus on the idea that they would be sent on ever more questionable missions as Krozen essentially confirms for himself what they are comfortable with; he’s careful and wouldn’t drop them off the deep end, both for his reputation but also because he’s not going to send people on a deeply morally questionable mission if he doesn’t think they can accomplish it. So I think it would be a continuing series of “Are we going to go through with this” scenarios.

      As for Lavira, as I mention in the comment on Jaela, I believe that Krozen does believe in the flame and believe that he is righteous—and part of believing in the Flame is supporting the Keeper. The only way I would see him being involved in the murder of a Keeper is if he truly believed that the Keeper was a grave threat to Thrane itself or to the Flame itself. If that was the case—if he truly believed Jaela’s soft policies could destroy Thrane, for example—I could see him doing it in the belief that “The FLame will call another Keeper.” But again, in my opinion it would have to be that he considered the Keeper’s actions to pose an existential threat to the nation or the church, not just a personal rivalry.

      I could easily see him taking action to further limit the Keeper’s political influence, however.

  7. From a GMing perspective, when it comes to powerful NPCs receiving knowledge (especially about the PCs) from divine sources, how do you portray this so the players don’t claim that’s unfair? (Aside from the obvious answer of ‘have players who trust you to GM responsibly and tell a good story’.)

    • The only real answer here is “Don’t use plots that your players hate.” The Shadow is the Sovereign of secrets. Set aside the idea that both of these characters could cast Commune if they wanted, the WHOLE IDEA OF THE SHADOW is that it knows things you don’t want to know. But ultimately this all comes down to principles of consent, triggers, and that we all want to have fun. If you’ve got a player who will be really upset if Zerasha knows their character’s secrets, then DON’T HAVE ZERASHA KNOW THEIR SECRETS; it’s really just that simple. Or, ideally, identify those secrets the player is sensitive about and avoid those, while reflecting the power and nature of the Shadow in other ways.

  8. And a lore question if you don’t mind a second question on the matter of divine guidance: In your Eberron, if Krozen does hear the pure, uncorrupted Voice of the Flame at least some of the time, how do you reconcile the quasi-intelligence (or full intelligence?) of the Voice providing guidance with the various evils that Krozen commits?

    I get (and love) the idea of how his personal belief in his own righteousness is what empowers his divine magic to such a degree, but I feel like that’s still distinct from your very cool equivalent of Commune, since the Voice is a wholly distinct entity from his own subconscious.

    (Then again, having a PC’s subconscious give them advice like in The Dresden Files is a great idea for a Blood of Vol cleric’s Commune…)

    • When we say that the Voice of the Flame guides you, it’s not literally supposed to be Tira Miron having a conversation with you, person to person. It’s still a matter of instinct and intuition, of KNOWING things. Visions might come in a dream. If Archbishop Arcidella is plotting against Krozen, it could be that he sees a dream of her holding a dagger or just KNOWS what she is up to, but it’s not that Tira says “Hey Kro, me again, just wanted to fill you in on a problem you might want to deal with.” If you consider the Drama to the Divine article, part of the problem is that PEOPLE CAN MISINTERPRET DIVINE VISIONS. It could be that Tira IS trying to get Krozen back on the righteous path and he keeps misreading the signals.

      And again, part of the idea is that Krozen’s evils are done in the service of the greater good. If he murders one person to save a hundred from suffering, are we so sure that Tira doesn’t support it? (PROBABLY not, but the point is that he can probably BELIEVE she might be).

    • (Then again, having a PC’s subconscious give them advice like in The Dresden Files is a great idea for a Blood of Vol cleric’s Commune…)
      From Exploring Eberron:
      Consider the Seeker priest who casts commune; how can they gain information they don’t already know? The answer is that the divinity within is something far greater than you. It is a god, possessing celestial power you can’t understand or imagine—but it is still in its chrysalis, waiting to be born. When you cast your spell, you awaken a sliver of its power; once the spell is done, it returns to its rest. Or at least, that’s a Seeker believes. Scholars of other faiths argue that the Seekers are deluded…

  9. I’m sure the “right” answer to this question probably depends on the tone of the campaign, but in your vision of the setting and character, how heavily does Krozen’s conscience weigh on him? Would he sleep soundly after giving orders that will result in hundreds or thousands of deaths if it serves his version of protecting Thrane? Or does he lie awake at night (or suffer nightmares) because of some of the things he feels like he has to do to protect his country/faith?

    • You’re right — it really depends on where you want the campaign to go, and either option has merits. For Krozen as I see him, it’s a little of both. I feel that he is VERY confident that he is doing the right thing, and that this confidence is reflected by the power of his divine spellcasting and his ability to sway the majority of the cardinals. He’s not on the fence about these decisions; he is absolutely certain he is doing what must be done. But there could still be moments where he’s sad about the sacrifices that are being made. He doesn’t question his choice, but he can still be sad that it WAS, in his mind, the only right choice. So I can see him saying a prayer for the innocents he’s forced to sacrifice, hoping that they find their way to the Flame. But he doesn’t hesitate when the time comes to sacrifice them. Beyond this, I think there have to be moments where he ponders whether he might be listening to the Shadow in the Flame. But again, I think his fundamental confidence is reflected by his influence and his spellcasting power; he’s not someone riddled with doubts.

    • This is an idea broadly discussed in this article, under “The Enemy Patron.” The Silver Flame is a concrete power source that absolutely, unquestionably exists. Followers of the Flame channel its power through belief. But it’s reasonable to think that someone could find an arcane technique that allowed them to hack into its power and harness it despite having no loyalty to the Flame or its principles. Mechanically, you could reflect this with the Celestial patron, but I’d be more likely to use the Fiend patron and just say that all the fire you produce is silver…

      • Nice, thank you. I’ve created a Silver Flame warlock with a tiny couatl familiar (pseudo dragon stats), but she was all about an intense inspiration from the Flame almost in a Joan of Arc way. I like the idea of a Shadow In The Flame patron who has taken arcane shortcut, maybe a ne’er-do-well layabout Arcanix scholar.

  10. As always, a great article, and a well timed one for my game, considering that my players just got involved in the politics of Thrane

  11. In Five Nations Krozen has undetectable alignment as something already cast, would it be a effect he always has cast as a side effect of a subconscious “I’m not evil I’m right” mentality. And could carry over to 5e for the very few effects that learns alignment. Such as a warlock familiar the sprite. Or possibly magic items that require good.

    Are there cardinals that think starting the last war would be a good idea? Would your Krozen see it as necessary? Or is he a voice against the war but even some of his supporters think Thrane should rule all to stop evil.

    How often does Zerasha meet other priests of the shadow such as Thalanna?

    • Regarding 3.5, this is something discussed at more length in this article. Even using 3.5 rules, scan a room of ten people and odds are good two or three of them are evil; it’s not like all evil people must be rounded up and shot. But when it comes to clerics, I discuss my approach to this in this article. Krozen doesn’t NEED to cast undetectable alignment, because the “GOOD” aura he projects as a 12th-level cleric of a lawful good power source dramatically overshadows his personal evil alignment——and it’s that greater aura that is used for magical effects. So in spite of personally having an evil alignment, as a faithful servant of the Silver Flame he’s infused with positive energy, while be hurt by unholy effects and benefit from holy ones, turns undead instead of rebuking them, and so on — just as a good priest of the Blood of Vol rebukes undead instead of turning them, despite their personal alignment.

      Now, a tarnished priest—who’s NOT actually channeling the power of the Silver Flame—won’t have that aura of good and will have to shield themselves. So if Ythana Morr knowingly serves Bel Shalor, she’d have to do something like this. But in my campaign, Krozen has no need to conceal his alignment.

      Are there cardinals that think starting the last war would be a good idea? Would your Krozen see it as necessary? Or is he a voice against the war but even some of his supporters think Thrane should rule all to stop evil.
      The Keeper supports peace and sees war as a horrible thing that turns the innocent against one another. However, there are definitely cardinals who feel that the only way to deal with that is to restart the war and win it, so the faithful can ensure a better world for all. Krozen would definitely like to see Galifar reunited under church rule, but the key to Krozen is that he’s also an EXCELLENT STRATEGIST. He’d love to restart the Last War, but only if he actually thinks Thrane could win. He’s not a fool who wants to start war without a practical plan. But if he could find a way to win——say, harnessing the power of the Mourning?——he’d be happy to return to war.

      How often does Zerasha meet other priests of the shadow such as Thalanna?
      Zerasha and Thalanna are, effectively, priests of different religions. Zerasha is a priest of the Cazhaak tradition, while Thalanna follows the Pyrinean interpretation of the Shadow. The fact that they both draw on the Shadow doesn’t automatically create a bond between them; Zerasha sees the Shadow as the force that gave the harpy her voice and the medusa her eyes, while Thalanna doesn’t give a damn about Droaamites or consider them to be particularly blessed. So no, Thalanna and Zerasha aren’t pen pals. On the other hand, Zerasha meets with other priests of the Shadow quite often, notably any time she goes home; Cazhaak Draal is essentially Droaam’s answer to Flamekeep, as the center of the Cazhaak tradition.

  12. I’m just glad that it is now confirmed that in Eberron, like our world, The Shadow Knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

    The sun is shining, but the ice is still slippery.

  13. Fantastic! Thanks for taking up my question about Krozen and turning it into a whole article. It is great to learn more about the enigmatic Krozen (he of no first name). The quote about Jaela is illuminating, and shows a certain fondness fo Jaela while accepting his lot as both an eminence grise and even someone who earns little but hate for all his hard work.

    As said in another comment, I like it that in Eberron, it’s possible to keep all of the canon sources, even those that are contradictory, and simply declare that some of them are rumours that exist in-setting. Keep people wondering which part of the canon is the truth, and which is the fiction.

    Richelieu, both the Dumas version and the historical one, is a very interesting character. The historical one, along with his protégé and successor Mazarin, made it a central point of his policy to curtail the power of the nobles. That’s also interesting in the context of Thrane: does Krozen likewise consider the nobility, and in particular Blood Regent Diani a threat to ‘his’ Thrane?

    And what is he like to people he cannot use to further his goals, but who do not stand in his way, assuming he meets them at a time when he has nothing pressing to do? In other words, is he able to show kindness and mercy when there is no political imperative guiding him? That is, in the hypothetical situation that he is able to let go of the burdens of office for a single evening, which I feel would probably be difficult for someone as driven as he.

    In a bit of a tangent: Does Krozen, and the Theocracy at large, have any power of excommunication, and does this power extend beyond the borders of Thrane? For instance, if the Diet of Cardinals was presented with proof that Ythana Morr is corrupt or that Dariznu has gone too far, could Krozen pronounce an excommunication against them?

    I so, what would this entail? In Catholic tradition, it means being barred from taking part in the sacraments of the Church. For that, there would be a precedent with the excoriation punishment used by the dragonmarked houses. An excommunicate would be barred from attending service, gaining blessings from the church, executing any functions in its name, and maybe even associating with other members. I guess it would not prevent them from getting help if actually threatened by supernatural evil, because I cannot see the Church giving a victory to evil out of pettiness.

    Also, how enforceable would such pronouncement be? If Krozen excommunicated one of the above, would they be mystically forced out of the Church, or could Ythana or Dariznu simply turn around and excommunicate Krozen – as happened during the Great Schism and the Avignon Papacy in our own history? Has something like that happened between Flamekeep and Stormreach?

    Finally, would an excommunication have any effect on divine powers? They do not come from the Church, after all, but directly from the source. If the excommuncatee believes themselves to be right, would be keep his powers? That would challenge the authority of the party which pronounced the excommunication, unless they can convince people that these powers come from somewhere else. Or would the ritual ‘convince’ the source to stop granting powers? Or even plant a doubt in the mind of the victim that is enough to prevent his using divine powers? Would this be different if the victim is actually guilty?

    • does Krozen likewise consider the nobility, and in particular Blood Regent Diani a threat to ‘his’ Thrane?
      I believe he considers it to be antiquated and unnecessary and believes that the world would be a better place if the Church governed all nations. Diani has very little power and I don’t think Krozen considers her a significant threat at the moment, but I’m certain he keeps a close watch on her to make sure she’s not building power or influence; he doesn’t need to KILL her (or he likely would have) but he will want to make sure she stays in her place. I’ve said before that if I ran a Musketeers campaign in Eberron, I’d have the protagonists be loyal guards of the Queen, striving to help her Majesty build alliances and overcome the Cardinal’s intrigues.

      And what is he like to people he cannot use to further his goals, but who do not stand in his way, assuming he meets them at a time when he has nothing pressing to do? In other words, is he able to show kindness and mercy when there is no political imperative guiding him?
      I believe that Krozen is an expert diplomat. So I see him as being very charming when he wants to be. I also see him as always looking to the big picture, so he’ll be considering how you could help (or harm) him in the future even if you have no use now. So I don’t see him as being gruff and rude; I think he can be pleasant enough, though I also think he has a powerful alpha personality.

      Does Krozen, and the Theocracy at large, have any power of excommunication, and does this power extend beyond the borders of Thrane? For instance, if the Diet of Cardinals was presented with proof that Ythana Morr is corrupt or that Dariznu has gone too far, could Krozen pronounce an excommunication against them?
      Yes. In canon, this is specifically called out as being the case with the Church in Stormreach. From page 79 of City of Stormreach:

      The Council of Cardinals was infuriated by this rebellion, but with the Last War in full swing, the Thranes couldn’t afford to send new forces to this distant post. Instead, the city was formally severed from Flamekeep. To this day, the keep receives no support from Thrane, and the faithful are warned to beware the words of these heretic priests. Now that the war is over, some believe that Flamekeep should reclaim the keep. However, the people of Embers stand behind their minister, and Keeper Jaela Daran is more willing to accept diversity than her predecessors had been; for the moment, Stormreach has been left on its own.

      Also, how enforceable would such pronouncement be?
      We haven’t discussed the exact form that this takes. For an institution—such as Stormreach—it’s a high level pronouncement. For an individual, the point is how anyone KNOWS you’ve been cut off from the church; a simple answer would be branding, with the principle that someone bearing the brand shouldn’t be given the protection of the Church to able to participate in services. I can see the church targeting low-level, individual corrupt priests in this way. However, I think they’d have to be very careful dealing with someone like Ythana, because especially with the war barely over, targeting a powerful priest (in a nation that is relatively comfortable with casual corruption) could easily lead to a dramatic schism with Ythana rallying the Brelish to create a Flame of Breland or something like that.

      Finally, would an excommunication have any effect on divine powers? They do not come from the Church, after all, but directly from the source.
      At the moment, the answer is a hard no. As you say, the powers come from the source, not the Church… and very notably, the one canon example we have of excommunicates is Stormreach, and the church there includes two adepts. The PRINCIPLE of the thing is that being severed from Flamekeep means you are cut off from the KEEPER and the VOICE, and for some this might cause a sufficient crises of faith to cause them to lose power; but they can’t cut you off from the Flame itself.

      Keep in mind that we have a concrete example of such a schism in the Time of Two Keepers with Melysse Miron. It would certainly be possible for someone like Ythana to try to follow that model, using national patriotism as a lever to start a Brelish church.

      • Diani would be Anne of Austria to Krozen’s Richelieu (minus the love affair)? Incidentally, how old do you see Diani as being?

        Thanks for the detailed response on the excommunication topic. I had somehow muddled up my history of Stormreach and believed that the community in Stormreach seceded or schismed from Flamekeep, but yes, it does say that the Cardinals took the final step. What would happen if the Purified in Xen’drik came under an actual threat by supernatural evil forces (a good probability, in that place)? Would the Church insist on them accepting the Theocracy first, or would the mandate to defend the innocents trump political power plays?

        Isn’t Ythana already schismatic – her title appears nowhere else in the Church hierarchy – and even worse, heretic and fallen? She is engaged in more than mere corruption. Though I expect nobody knows that and Flamekeep is careful to avoid something that has already happened out of blissful ignorance.

        Some spells across the editions allow the cutting-off of another’s divine powers (some good examples come from a 3.5 sourcebook on Crime and Punishment, written by your good self before Eberron was a thing). Given that divine magic works differently in Eberron than in other settings, spells such as Ban, Excommunicate, and Anathema would too: but do you see any way to use parts of them in Eberron?

        • I mean Anathema was a 9th level spell. So I don’t see how it would practically be of use. I’d say the Keeper can pronounce an Anathema as could the Ascendant Ones and some of the strongest Councillors and Mordraloi in Aerenal. Maybe some Great Wyrm as well for the Host or Dark Six but that would be it. If a player did manage to get to cast 9th level divine spells, let them shut down lower level casters of their faith, they damn earned it.

          • Anathema was an 8th level spell in Keith’s Crime and Punishment (or 7th level for one of the custom classes introduced there), but your point still stands: only Jaela has the power to cast it, by canon (among the Purified). The Undying Court could probably do it without a problem, because they actually are the source.

            However, Keith’s Excommunicate in the same book is 6th level (5th for an Inquisitor), and thus Krozen could cast it. It can also be cast only by an ‘official representative of the church’ and only against people who hold a lower rank in the church than the caster, which is everyone except the other High Cardinals and the Keeper. Ythana Morr could probably not cast it against a Purified; she is high level enough, but she gets her power from Bel Shalor. I guess she could cast it against a lower-ranking Tarnished, but she probably prefers more messy punishments.

            I know this is a third party source (Atlas Games), but I am including it because it was written by Keith, and has some ideas, some of which appear later on in Eberron (especially some of the alternatives to imprisonment, such as petrifiction).

          • With any secondary source it’s always up to the DM to decide whether to add new spells to a campaign. As I mention elsewhere, I think the Undying Court is an excellent option for having these spells. I MIGHT allow it as a limited option for the Silver Flame, but only tied to specific Voices — it blocks the Voice of the Flame, not the Flame itself — and the victim could potentially find another Voice or become a new Voice. It’s obviously very illogical for, say, the Blood of Vol, where the priest has no authority over another person’s relationship with their own Divinity Within.

            In general, spells like Anathema make more sense in a setting with concrete gods where the priest is essentially petitioning the god to cast out the offender. This is why it certainly makes sense with the Undying Court, where it’s possible to imagine that. But Aureon doesn’t play favorites; your relationship with Aureon is about your faith, and Pthaso Mogan doesn’t have any influence over that.

        • Diani would be Anne of Austria to Krozen’s Richelieu (minus the love affair)? Incidentally, how old do you see Diani as being?
          Essentially, yes. I have no idea what canon says about Diani, but I personally see her in her twenties—still quite young, still optimistic that things could change.

          What would happen if the Purified in Xen’drik came under an actual threat by supernatural evil forces (a good probability, in that place)?

          As you say, it’s in Xen’drik; it’s surely ALWAYS under supernatural threat. If something specific came up and they were to call to Thrane for aid and there was time for Thrane to SEND help (which seems like a fairly complex chain of events) Jaela would want to do it and Krozen would be inclined not to unless they capitulated, and the question is who would win the argument.

          Isn’t Ythana already schismatic – her title appears nowhere else in the Church hierarchy – and even worse, heretic and fallen? She is engaged in more than mere corruption. Though I expect nobody knows that and Flamekeep is careful to avoid something that has already happened out of blissful ignorance.
          The question of the exact relationship between Flamekeep and the priests of Breland, and how Flamekeep maintained their loyalty during a time of war, is a MUCH bigger topic than I can address in a tangental comment. The short form is that if Flamekeep cut off everyone who took a questionable step or two, Thrane would stand alone. Ythana has been granted some personal leeway — including her title — in exchange for continuing to support Flamekeep and the Keeper; whether she truly does so in her heart is another matter, and not one they know.

          Given that divine magic works differently in Eberron than in other settings, spells such as Ban, Excommunicate, and Anathema would too: but do you see any way to use parts of them in Eberron?
          Given that divine magic is very different in Eberron, my inclination—having written a number of those spells—is to say no. The Silver Flame predates the Church of the Silver Flame and as powerful as she is, Jaela couldn’t, for example, cut a Ghaash’kala champion off from it. The Sovereign Host doesn’t have a clearly delineated hierarchy among its priests; a village smith who’s seen as being close to Onatar could be the village priest, and Pthaso holds no authority over her relationship with Onatar. If I decided to use those spells in my campaign, there are two specific cases where I might allow them:
          1. The Undying Court is one of the only faiths that has a concrete power source that is based on an anthropomorphic source. I can see the idea that a powerful priest of the Undying Court could petition the Court to sever its ties to a particular elf.
          2. Jaela doesn’t have that kind of authority over the Silver Flame itself. But I could see the argument that she has that influence with the VOICE of the Flame, Tira Miron, who essentially serves as a signal booster who lets people hear the Flame more clearly than they otherwise would. With this in mind, I could see Jaela being able to cast Anathema on someone who is specifically a faithful follower of the CHURCH of the Silver Flame. But this would have no effect on, for example, the Ghaash’kala, who have a different Voice of the Flame, or on a shulassakar who has a more direct relationship with the Flame. And essentially, while it might IMMEDIATELY block or reduce the target’s powers, I would say that the victim could FIND THEIR OWN PATH back to the Flame, potentially even becoming their own voice.

          So it’s possible under very limited circumstances, but in no way trivial.

          • I always had the impression that Diani was still very young, given her idealism, but seeing as she is celebrating the tenth anniversity of her assuming the posiiton of Blood Regent, I wasn’t so sure. Like Dannel, she was in her early teens when she inherited what is left of the crown of Thrane, and she can thus empathise well with Jaela about what it means to have such responsabilities thrust upon you when you are still a child.

            Regarding the Xen’drik community: that would make for an interesting game, especially if the Keeper were forced to send help without the Cardinals noticing (or being able to tie it to Jaela), while the official discussions are going on in Flamekeep.

            The Excommunication spell in your book also has the effect of preventing beneficial spells cast by divine casters of the faith that excommunicated the target to fail. That seems quite interesting: might that work in the fashion you described in your ‘Adding Drama to the Divine’ article, where you write that a cleric could be ‘unable to heal or bless a party member whose actions are strongly opposed to principles of the faith’?

            Of course, if this were to happen as a result of an excommunication spell or ritual, it would no longer be unpredictable. And obviously, a character excommunicated by Flamekeep could still be healed by priests of the Flame whose faith is not tied to the Church itself: so the Ghaash’kala, the schismatic Stormreach Purified, and the Shulassakar would not see their spells fizzle if they tried to bless or heal such a one. If that were to work, the Stormreach Purified could have retaliated with their own excommunication, making it impossible for their people to help anyone whose faith includes loyalty to the Church.

  14. In the Thorn of Brelans novels, it is said religious freedom in Droaam is the REASON there is no silver flame. How true is this statement? We know the dark six are openly worshipped, but do the droammite have temples to the other sovereigns? Also, would Krozen rather destroy or convert Droaam.

    • We know the dark six are openly worshipped, but do the droammite have temples to the other sovereigns?
      This is addressed on pages 85-86 of Exploring Eberron. Droaam is home to a wide range of beliefs.

      Also, would Krozen rather destroy or convert Droaam.
      I think Krozen is far more concerned with the Five Nations than with Droaam, and likely doesn’t have a strong opinion about Droaam unless it suddenly poses a meaningful threat to Thrane or is somehow relevant to their dealings with other nations—so, for example, if taking an aggressive stance against Droaam would give the Church stronger support in Breland, they might take that stance. But I do not see a situation in which it would somehow be strategically useful to Thrane to unilaterally commit significant forces to some sort of Droaam offensive. Meanwhile, Jaela is more compassionate — and since you’ve read The Queen of Stone, note that in that the diplomat was seeking to establish a Flame presence in Droaam, suggesting that there are those who believe a peaceful relationship is possible.

      • Could Krozen consider Droaam a potential ally against Breland (a nation they actually fought during the war, as opposed to Droaam)? There are potential allies for the Flame in the Nation of Monsters.

        The medusas, and in particular Sheshka, seem to be reasonable people. The Queen of Stone teases Thorn when she uses Aureon in her idioms, but she doesn’t go into a religious frenzy.

        The Gnolls of the Znir Pact have already rebelled against the Fiends, and while they have sworn never to bow to any other supernatural force, they may recognise that the Silver Flame prevents the Rage of War and the Wild Heart from being freed and making their opinions about traitors clear.

        There are also Minotaur clans who do not worship the Horned Prince as a fiend, even one (now dispersed), which worshipped Dol Arrah in their own way.

        Essentially, while they might despise the Church, most mortal creatures should be happy the Silver Flame itself is there. Life would be hell otherwise, quite literally…

        Besides, speaking of Queen of Stone: what position is a ‘Flamebearer’? Drego Sarhain holds that title, I believe.

        • I’m afraid I’ve spent too much time on Krozen and need to move on. Sorry about that! But if no one else responds here I’m sure there’s people who would be happy to discuss in it on Reddit or Discord.

          • Thanks anyway, and of course no need to be sorry. My original question was about Krozen’s first name, so I’m pretty happy about all the detailed information I now got about the High Cardinal!

  15. Hi Keith! I really love Krozen!
    Do you think he can conjure a celestial creature for an assassination or not? Might the celestial refuse to obey?
    What do you think Krozen thinks of warforgeds? And, byw, can jaela create a new cardinal if she likes?
    What do you think Krozen would do if he finds out of any cosmic threat that is not immediately targeting Thrane (I mean Daelkyr, or the whole dreaming dark thing)?

    • I’ve answered the celestial question elsewhere, but in short: he can do anything he likes with Summon Celestial. Planar Ally or Conjure Celestial would require and explanation before performing what appears to be an evil act, but celestials aren’t omniscient and one of the core principles of Eberron is that good people can do bad things, just as evil people can do good things. Krozen is a high cardinal, with the divine power to call on celestials. If he says this assassination is for the greater good, why does the lesser couatl think it knows better?

    • I think Krozen considers the warforged to be soulless tools. They may be used to accomplish good things, but they are not “innocents” in the light of the Flame.

    • The Church has a formal hierarchy. The Keeper’s blessing is required to create a cardinal, but she couldn’t just make Skaravojen a cardinal.

      As for how Krozen would handle a cosmic threat, keep in mind that I don’t WANT Krozen to be solving the cosmic threats; that’s what player characters are for. Thus, I’m more likely to make my Krozen narrowly focused and willing to dismiss a threat beyond Thrane… UNLESS player characters can convince him to take it seriously.

      I’ve spent too much time on this topic, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer further Krozen questions, but I hope that helps!

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